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???

The author says:

It has been 50 years since humans were introduced to the fantastic beings that shared their galaxy. Technology has been thrust to futuristic depths, producing an elaborate space station that orbits Earth where Tara lives with her mother and sister. But it is not quite the melting pot of cultures that idealists had hoped for. A tragedy on Earth pushes Tara and her family to abandon everything they know to escape being tied into the conspiracy. But who labeled them as traitors in the first place? As they run deeper into uncharted space, the mystery grows as thick as the tangles of trouble they find themselves in.

Nathan says:

Honestly, I can’t that title. I’m not being hyperbolic for emphasis; I literally have no idea what it says. THIS IS A PROBLEM, especially because your synopsis doesn’t give me any clues. Readers simply won’t buy your book if they can’t read your title.

Given that you only sent a small version of the cover, I can’t tell if the texture on the face is an interesting effect or the consequence of scanning a too-small image from printed material.  However, I can tell you that the story you describe — intrigue aboard a space station and beyond — isn’t really indicated by the cover.  If it weren’t for the angular (unreadable) title font, I would assume that this is fantasy or nhew-agey paranormal fiction.

My advice to you:

COMMUNICATE with your cover. Make it readable, and make it reflect the story, so that the people who would like your novel will realize from the cover that this book is for them.

Comments

  1. I keep reading G4rin, and I know that’s not what it is. Syrin sounds possible lol. I hope the author will come by and enlighten us. (:

    As for the image, it’s quite pretty, though the screentone effect on the face and the font style make me think “graphic novel”. I’m not sure I understand the mood of the story (description sounds like sci-fi thriller?), but this cover gives me the impression of a fantasy story with astronomy themes.

    So as good-looking as it is, more hints at the story and genre would be useful (planets and spaceships are a bit cliche, but I think it really might need something more than the mysterious woman’s face). Plus maybe more red tones if it is indeed a thriller.

  2. You probably shouldn’t combine an unfamiliar word with a difficult-to-read typeface.

    The image is nice and if the texture is indeed intentional, that is an interesting touch.

    But…it really tells us nothing at all about the book other than the broadly general suggestion that it might have something to do with science fiction or fantasy. There is certainly nothing that seems to communicate what you have written in your description of the book. Keep the basic image if you wish, but you will need to include one or more additional visual elements that convey something of the book’s story, setting or theme.

  3. To me, the title reads “5421N.” I don’t know what that means. The cover art isn’t all that bad, except for the halftone effect (don’t know if that’s intentional). Maybe a better illustration can be found on Shutterstock, which shows the Earth in background since the story is supposed to take place on a space station.

  4. I’m a sf reader btw.
    I read the title as Shrin. I was assuming the neighbouring letter was providing the vertical.
    It is pretty but without knowing it was meant to be sf, I wouldn’t immediately translate the star field in the background as a star field – it could be fancy marble. If the prospective reader could see more of it, it might be more obvious. As a start, could the face be rather smaller?
    With the title on the face I was also thinking that the serene looking blue woman with sparkly bits was an alien called a Shrin.

    I would also highlight to you that a very large number of sf covers tend to be space ship with some sort of space background. So if a lot of the action is the main characters running off in a space ship, you might want to consider a space ship.

    You’ve not mentioned your target audience in your text. Are you thinking fans of Peter Hamilton, John Scalzi, John Campbell, Charles Stross, Ann Aguirre, Tanya Huff…..?? A good starting point is to try to identify “nearby” authors and see how their work is currently being marketed.

    1. I thought it might be Syrin. As in, some futuristic, truncated slang for “Siren,” as in a she-devil that lures men (sailors) to their deaths on the rocks, right? Sailors, astronauts, space-travellers? I can kind of go there, but the font’s GOTTA GO, unless he changes the name to something less faux. As someone else here said, made-up names and impossible-to-read fonts, that’s a bad combo. There are lots of “space” of sci-fi fonts that aren’t that hard to read.

      I kind of thought “maybe science fantasy,” when I saw the stars/glitter in the woman’s hair; but the appearance just pushed me toward fantasy, period, not sci-fi/fa. While I, too, tend to like the texture–and the color–it needs to be smaller, and you need that “thing” (spaceship, space station, shuttle, something!), that says “science-fiction” in the background, which appears to be, what, a Nebula? An Oort cloud? Whatever–gotta get one more element on that cover that shouts “sci-fi here!”

      Lots to like here, but it needs a bit of tweaking.

  5. Regarding the woman’s face. Because it is serene and pointing slightly downwards, makes me think of a powerful being (angelic?) overseeing things. Not necessarily benevolent. Does look rather remote.
    Just highlighting this as one of my reactions to the cover.

  6. I agree with everyone that the title is ambiguous to the point of unreadability, but I do think it’s great you’ve looked at doing something interesting with the words. A graphic treatment of a title can often be what elevates a cover into looking professional. You’re just going to need to work more on balancing the aesthetics with the readbility.

    Overall I think the problem here is that this cover just doesn’t communicate much at all. The futuristic SF genre comes across but in the broadest, blandest way possible. Certainly nothing of the interesting society or plot you talk about comes across here. It also sounds like your book has a different tone from what this cover implies – the book is intelligent plot-led, actiony thriller it sounds, and the cover looks melancholic and a tad boring.

    And your title is already a bit uncommunicative (even if it were readable it’s still a pretty abstract title, telling us nothing concrete about the book). Nothing wrong with that, mysteriousness can be its own selling point.

    Here’s a cover I really like of relevance you your case, Railhead by Philip Reeve:

    https://53dde335a2dce2ca942c-498c68ea2e9d4fdb160dd89f86b552f2.ssl.cf3.rackcdn.com/v1/large/9780/1927/9780192742766.jpg

    On the face of it, it’s quite like your cover: a mysterious word for the title, a female figure posing, a SF-y bakcground. But you see how much information and excitement the cover designer has put across? The treatment of the title hints at dynamic action, the background is full of hard-to-pin-down but enticing detail. The girl might just be standing there but she’s a visual focal point – her red outfit is a great contrast to the overall blue tones – and her ambiguity is lifted into intriguing mystery by having her face away.

    Now it might be this case would still be a bit vague for online sellers. Because this sells as a physical book, the publisher has been able to rely on people reading the pull-quote on the front which establishes genre as well as praising the book, and the blur and further imagery that is on the back. But you see how even a physical book which has that luxury, and is actively playing to ‘confident and mysterious’ still tells us an awful lot in terms of tone, pace and setting?

    I also mention this as a case study because Shutterstock is explicitly credited on the publishing page as part of the cover design! Alongside a professional illustrator, sure, but it does demonstrate that even using pre-existing imagery you can create something fitting and unique.

  7. Well, it seems you’ve given what Hitch calls the “Miller Test” (after Ron Miller for being the one who suggested it on here) its first field tryout: can we determine what kind of novel your cover is trying to sell if the title’s in a foreign language? A title composed in a font with ambiguous characters that might be letters or numbers certainly might as well be in Hebrew for how well we can understand it. I would recommend changing the font to help your prospective readers disambiguate whether the title is SYRIN or 5421N or SHRIN or GYRIN, but not before we determine whether the artwork can sell the cover.

    My analysis: in both thumbnail and closeup, your cover is beautiful and intriguing, but much too generalized; a picture of a pretty glittering gal who seems (on closer viewing) to be partially composed of fiber-optic cables, set against the background of a star field with a bright nebula in the middle of it, generally suggests either fantasy or science fiction (though I’m leaning strongly toward science fiction based on the apparent fiber-optic cables and somewhat hi-tech-looking font)… and nothing else. While a pretty gal against a star field is reminiscent of old-school illustration from the early days of pulp sci-fi when anything with a rocket or a pretty girl against a starry background would sell, this is more like the cover for an anthology or a monthly publication for short stories than for any single specific story. All I can conclude from this is that your story features a pretty gal in an outer space setting, a description which fits about half the space opera science fiction stories ever written.

    While you need not put the entire story on your cover, I’d recommend pulling back to show more of this gal than just her face. Having her not filling so much of the cover should leave you more room in the background to show a space station in orbit around our planet (making the setting a bit more specific than just anywhere in outer space), and indicate whether she’s just a regular human with some futuristic enhancements or maybe one of those “fantastic beings” mentioned in your description (and as such, either doesn’t need to breathe or doesn’t need to have air to do so when in the vacuum of outer space). Just those few changes by themselves would help clarify and specify so much.

    Once that’s done, then you get a less ambiguous tech font to help solve the riddle of what the title’s actually supposed to be. (In fact, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if it did turn out to be some kind of L337 or visual-pun title, something like Van Halen’s album OU812.) Once the picture’s sufficiently improved, an intriguing (or at least clever) title needs only be icing on the cake.

  8. Hey! Author here! Thank you so much everyone for your feedback! To clarify, the title is… drumroll… Syrin. At the time, I was in love with the font, but I think I was too comfortable with it to recognize how unreadable it really is.

    Half-tone texture on girl is intentional. I was hoping to make it like a blend of old/future star maps where the constilation is sketched out over the stars. (Hitch, you nailed a theme in the book). I really LOVE the cover you showed Kata.

    I struggled with the whole, how to represent a YA Sci-Fi on one book cover. Oh! The girl on the cover is the main character, the background is a nebula.

    Back to the drawing board!

    Again, thank you for taking the time to review my work, everyone. It’s a good kick in the pants to get this thing sorted.

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